EU targets Google, Amazon, other tech firms with new rules

Google, Amazon and other tech firms will have to tell companies how products are ranked on their platforms under new European Union rules agreed to Thursday, according to Reuters.

The policy is reportedly intended to stop unfair practices among digital platforms and is targeted at Google Play, Apple App Store, Microsoft Store, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Fnac Marketplace. Various social media companies and search engines, such as Facebook, Instagram, Skyscanner and Google Shopping, Google Search, Seznam.cz, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, Bing, are also covered under the rules, Reuters noted.

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The regulations include prohibiting discriminatory trade practices, requiring companies to set up internal mechanisms to deal with complaints and allowing businesses to collectively sue online platforms, according to the news service.

“Our target is to outlaw some of the most unfair practices and create a benchmark for transparency, at the same time safeguarding the great advantages of online platforms both for consumers and for businesses,” EU digital chief Andrus Ansip said, it added.

The EU fined Google $2.7 billion in 2017 over antitrust violations for advancing its own price-comparison shopping service. Regulators are also probing if Amazon illegally uses dealers’ data to make similar items.

The tech industry appeared relieved by the approach EU regulators took.

“It seems EU policymakers understood that imposing such a one-size-fits-all framework makes little sense in one of the most diverse and dynamic sectors of the economy,” Jakob Kucharczyk of tech lobbying group CCIA told Reuters.

The deal Thursday was struck by negotiators from several EU countries, the European Parliament and the European Commission, according to the news service, which added that the body’s member countries and the EU assembly will have to approve of the rules before it becomes law.